Bampro Marine and Probus Maritiem Part Ways Amicably

Netherlands-based Bampro Marine is a leading provider of communication systems for the shipping industry.

Since Rob Witteveen became owner in 2010, the company saw a substantial growth, both in size as in the number of products it can supply.

Bampro also increased its share of dealings in the inland shipping. This share increased even more when Bampro acquired Probus Maritiem in Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht as per 1 January 2016.

Bampro Marine moved to a better location last year, and in April 2017 Probus Maritiem will move to another location in Hendrik Ido Ambacht, and will be situated directly on the river De Noord.

Witteveen explains: "The two companies keep operating as separate entities."

They complement each other very well; Bampro and Probus offer similar services but never hampered each other, making this joint venture complementary.

This is a big help with Bampro’s ambition to expand its product portfolio and wish to be able to offer a complete communications package for the shipping industry, including offshore.

The company culture at Probus is different; "the employees make their own planning. At Bampro we have centralised this."

This is because of the difference in the size of workforce. When Rob Witteveen acquired Bampro in 2010, there were eight of us; now there are 28.

At Probus there are six, including its commercial director Philip Vellekoop, who until last year was the owner.

Satellite systems

Bampro Marine is known for its advanced satellite systems which are a necessity at sea and is fast becoming a must at inland shipping. People want a good and fast internet connection.

Witteveen notes: "A good connection at sea is directly coupled to income for the ship owner, especially when it becomes possible to do maintenance and repairs remotely, saving on plain tickets for technician."

Satellite systems will probably never have the same bandwidth we are used to at home. He says: "It is capable of Skype and e-mail or to monitor the fuel efficiency and other systems. That makes money for the owner fast."

Often there are emergency systems in place that enable a Bampro technician to remotely control and adjust a system.

This can be an Iridium system with which one can make a (usually very costly) connection: "This still is cheaper than flying-in a technician."

Obviously satellite systems on-board ships are used for watching TV. Bampro and Probus provide these systems not only for seagoing vessels but also to inland shipping and the product range is expanding as mentioned before.

Besides the more traditional means of communication like phone and VHF Bampro offers IT-management, Wi-Fi and all supplementary hardwarefor it, AIS equipment and the new Bridge Scout system, that measures the height of a bridge using laser technology.

Witteveen adds: "We also have Tresco, PC’s, navigation and communication-equipment; our product portfolio becomes more and more complete. Our customers simply are asking us."

The inland shipping part does not only deliver to the passenger segment. Tankers and dry cargo ships get sophisticated equipment on board, which often comes from Bampro, from the drawing board until the final delivery, installation and commissioning.

"We serve everything with an anchor, from yachts to big sea-going vessels," notes Witteveen, "even offshore drilling rigs."

Service

Bampro Marine offers worldwide 24/7 service. That is quite a lot. Partly we do this by remote fault finding and adjustments; if that does not solve the problem, we will send a technician.

That takes a special breed of people and Rob Witteveen knows like no other the value of his employees, they determine the quality of the whole company, especially speaking about service: "Against all odds we have grown over the last seven years and our employees are the main drive for a large portion of that growth.

"These people have a drive and dedication that is beyond comparison… I think I am one of only a few that can say to be very lucky with my employees.

"After working a week in France and the phone rings, they are ready to pack and go again within the hour if need be. It goes without saying that this kind of loyalty cannot work without the backing from home."

Especially during the first months of each year, maintenance on passenger ships draws heavily on the guys.

He adds: "When these ships are operational and with passengers on-board, one cannot do much. It is highly specialised work that cannot be done with temporary workers.

"Those three months put a lot of pressure on the employees. If this were the case the whole year through, I could easily increase the number of employees but it is impossible to cater for this with temporary or self-employed workers.

"They are often specialised in one thing, TV or phone-systems. In our company you have to be all-round.

"We train our own people or stimulate trainees to follow external training courses to have the necessary theoretical background."

Rob Witteveen has a financial services background. Before he came to Bampro he was financial director and minority shareholder.

Fun

His current position suits him better, although at first it seemed invidious. Witteveen notes: "When I decided to start with a firm of my own in 2010, my wife declared me certifiable.

"It was in the middle of the financial crisis. I convinced myself to first of all have fun and take the less-earning for granted."

That turned out to be the winning attitude for Rob and Bampro.

Rob Witteveen does not have new takeovers in mind at the moment.

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